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Común Tierra: A journey through sustainable communities of the Americas July 27, 2014

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Consumer travel, Eco-Nomads, ecotourism, Ecovillages, Latin America, Nature tourism, Permaculture , add a comment

Minhoca Ecuador
(All photos courtesy of Común Tierra)

Editor’s note: In November of 2010, as I was winding down my journey through the Americas, documenting sustainability initiatives in the 10 countries I visited, my path crossed with that of Ryan Luckey and Leticia Rigatti, the couple who make up Común Tierra. They were doing exactly what I had wanted to do but ran out of time, funds and energy. They have spent the past four years creating a body of work that is unparalleled in this area, planting seeds of sustainability as they go with their workshops and seed bank and presentations. Their journey carried them throughout the Americas aboard the Minhoca, a motor home outfitted with a wide range of “ecotecnias” or ecological technologies that help the travelers live in a way that’s consistent with their values, while making their home a rolling demonstration project for sustainability.
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Call of Quetzalcoatl: Materializing the Vision November 23, 2013

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Ecovillages, Healing retreats, Indigenous culture, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability , 12comments

Closing circle

TEMICTLA, Mexico – If there were ever any doubt that Quetzalcoatl lives, that doubt was dispelled in one moist, glistening, luminous week in the heart of Mexico.

Here in Temictla, a sacred valley, a tiny ecovillage and spiritual retreat center on the edge of Chalmita, a pilgrimage destination to millions of people of diverse traditions, a far-flung family reunited under the light of a waxing moon in November of 2013. It’s a family of many nations and many traditions, a family whose multitudinous members have dedicated themselves heart and soul to the survival of humanity and of life on Earth.

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Meet Anna and Dave, the Permacyclists July 14, 2011

Posted by Tracy in : Uncategorized , add a comment

Permacyclists

Meet Dave and Anna, the Permacyclists.

She was a corporate lawyer from Brussels; he was a sociologist from New York. Neither of them was happy with their chosen profession, and after a great deal of soul searching, they decided to do what many dream of but few actually do: They quit their jobs, studied permaculture, bought bicycles and headed off across Africa, pedaling and working their way through 12 countries, 12,000 kilometers and 16 months from organic farm to organic farm, sharing what they’d learned along the way.

Now they’ve landed in Mexico and are launching a Phase 2 of their journey, but with a difference. This time they’re bringing a video camera and sound equipment, and documenting the stories of people working on solutions to the many environmental problems they have learned about in their travels. Their goal is to make it to the Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012. And this time they’re going by bus, instead of bike, to give them time to do reporting, writing and producing for their blog.

I was inspired by their story and by their plan, since in some ways it parallels my own – so we got together and shared stories. Here’s a little bit of theirs.


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Giving Thanks, Making Peace November 25, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Colombia, El Salvador, Esperanza Project, Guatemala, Mexico, Mexico City, Travel wisdom , 5comments

camino

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Thanksgiving day – I awoke this morning far from home and family but filled with a profound sense of gratitude.

Grateful for the sun that was just beginning to brighten the sky outside my window; grateful for the dear friends who have given me a home in this city of cities. Grateful for the health and the support of my family, who continue to love me faithfully despite my wandering ways.

Most of all on this day, I’m grateful for the path I’ve been given this year, a path that has led me from inspiration to inspiration as I traveled from Mexico to Argentina, seeking to learn from those who are each changing our world in their own way.
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It’s not enough to be biodegradeable… January 31, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Guadalajara, Mexico, Sustainability , add a comment

Life in Guadalajara is not so different from life in Houston. Sometimes, only the language is different.

My friend Alicia, like me, struggles to remember to bring the cloth shopping bags when she goes to the supermarket. This day, she remembered. Here’s a little reminder she likes to keep handy:

“It’s not enough to be biodegradeable; it’s necessary to be bioAGREEABLE.”

I liked the way this clever slogan captured one of the most important principles of sustainability: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” In that order.

A special appeal December 31, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Latin America, Sustainability , add a comment

South America

(Deejay Pilot-istockphoto)

Somewhere to the south of us, an indigenous farmer is raising his voice against the eradication of ancient seed stocks by corporate interests. An army of volunteer gardeners is sowing a food security system on rooftops, patios and abandoned lots. A tribe in the Amazon is using Google Earth to give virtual tours of its ancestral forests in a bid to build global support for their preservation. A troupe of young bicyclists is plotting colorful new ways to capture the public’s attention and steer its city policy toward the path of sustainability.

As forests burn, icecaps melt and sea levels rise, people at the grassroots aren’t waiting for the government to fix things for them.

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Nowhere is this more evident than in Latin America.

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Lighting out for the South November 24, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : Cuba, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Sustainability , add a comment

Today I will follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Che Guevara and Celia Cruz to the irrepressible rhythm of the Cuban son – emanating from Cuban human beings, not my CD collection or a cover band in downtown Houston. Far from the Bayou City, I’ll savor the sunset breezes on the Malecón, the famous boulevard that stretches the length of the city along the Bay of Havana. As many a tourist has done before me, I’ll sit at Hemingway’s favorite bar and have a mojito in his memory.

And while I will embrace the cultural magic of this legendary land, my journey goes beyond culture to something more essential, something universal and urgent.
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Greening the barrios in Mexico City October 28, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, Sustainability, Uncategorized , add a comment

Saving your garbage is a tough sell in a place where gardening is seen as peasant labor. But that doesn’t stop Dulce María Vega from rolling up her sleeves, going door-to-door and recruiting her neighbors for a grand mission. IMG_0465

Dulce is the friendly face of sustainability in her neighborhood. With more than 30,000 residents, Lomas de Plateros is one of Mexico City’s largest apartment complexes. When she first teamed up with Noelle Romero of Organi-K, a local environmental group, to establish a pilot Ecobarrios project at the massive complex, people thought she’d lost her senses.

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Mexico City Ecological Park: A wilderness restored October 22, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability , 3comments
Dahlias were first cultivated here by the Aztecs.
Dahlias were first cultivated here by the Aztecs.

This could be any other forest on the outskirts of any other city, I think to myself as the path curves through a grassy field, past a burst of orange sunflowers and into the shade of a mossy oak grove. Then Guadalupe stops and gestures for us to take a seat on the cool boulders in the clearing.

“Close your eyes,” she says. “Breathe deeply. Feel the peace that is in this place.”

Far in the distance, the murmur of traffic dissolves into the timeless rustle of the wind in the trees.

I do feel the peace; but my mind is straying back to what Guadalupe has just told me about this place, and it defies imagining.

Just two decades ago, this ferny hillside was virtually indistinguishable from the city below. And had it not been for Ajusco’s position as one of the most important aquifer recharge zones in Central Mexico, and a political drama that is still playing out to this day, it would have remained that way.

Nature is a classroom for Guadalupe Nuñez at Mexico City Ecological Park.
Nature is a classroom for Guadalupe Nuñez.

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Bringing nature to the mall September 16, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Nature tourism, Sustainability, Utah , add a comment
The 1,200 acres of high-plains wetlands were saved from development to create the Swaner EcoCenter, explains Annette Herman, Executive Director.

The 1,200 acres of high-plains wetlands were saved from development to create the Swaner EcoCenter, explains Annette Herman, Executive Director.

Images featured the elegantly woodsy Swaner Ecocenter surrounded with waving grasses, long-necked waterfowl, blue skies and the dramatic Wasatch Range. So it was no small surprise that Nora, our guide, pulled into a shopping center right across from WalMart and dropped us off. “It’s right over there,” she said. “I’ll park the car and then come join you.”

I contemplated getting a gelato first, or maybe window-shopping at the little boutique. Then I remembered why I was there.

It turns out the the pictures didn’t lie. This is no ordinary shopping center, and the Swaner family is a big reason why. The ecocenter sits at the heart of 1,200 acres this family bought and saved from development and, land which has been restored into a surprisingly wild habitat right off I-80. It’s tucked into the Newpark Town Center, which is striving for LEEDS environmental design certification (the ecocenter has already set the standard with a platinum LEEDS designation, the highest ranking). Located as it is on the edge of this mixed-use condo community and resort area, it’s ideally located to reach out to shoppers and residents who might otherwise not give a thought to visiting an educational center dedicated to nurturing and raising awareness about the environment.

Here’s a sneak preview:

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